Our visit to Athlone Railway station was very interesting. We were greeted by the station master Margaret Larkin who showed us around and told us many things we did not already learn about. Margaret told us that she was the first female station master in Ireland and has been the station master in Athlone since 1992. She showed us many old photographs of the station and also some old railway signals that were used by stations over the years so they could communicate with each other and allow trains to go from one station to another safely. These can be seen in the fourth photograph. We were also shown certificates of the many awards Athlone Railway Station has won for service and cleanliness.
The highlight of our visit was by far the look inside the control centre. It is the only control centre on the Dublin-Galway line and only one of two in total in the country. The first room we entered was full of TV screens. On each of them we could see live pictures of lots and lots of railway crossings. This is very important for rail safety as the men and women working here can inform the train driver if there may be anything on the track. One of the cameras we were looking at had rain on the screen but with the push of a button a wiper moved across the screen and cleared it of rain so we could have a clear view again. This room can be seen in the third photograph.
We then entered a second room where we saw more screens but on these screens we saw various CCTV views of lots of stations. These are important for the safety of the people on the platform getting on and off the trains. We then found out that if the controller wants to speak to a person on any platform he may do so, again by the push of a button. This room can be seen in the second photograph we took.
Before we finished our tour around the control centre we went to the signal room where two men were busy changing and controlling the signals for the trains along the Dublin-Galway line. At this point we realised that nowadays everything can be controlled just by the push of a button whereas before there would be two men at each of the railway crossings making sure our train journeys were safe.
We would like to thank Margaret Larkin for showing us around and to the men and women in the control centre. We will be thinking of you all the next time we see railway crossing barriers come down and the railway lights change!! In our first photograph we are pictured with Margaret just before we left for school.